Published: August 25, 2010 at 10:38 AMHere Here! We have always hated the locker fee!
Published: August 25, 2010 at 10:42 AMWhen your stuff gets stolen from an unload bin you won't mind paying for lockers
Published: August 25, 2010 at 10:44 AMTotally agree, great synopsis. I hate getting the shakedown at Six Flags parks anytime I want to ride a major roller coaster or thrill ride.
Published: August 25, 2010 at 10:46 AMMy main gripe is with those who make the consumer pay for a locker which once opened cannot be locked again for further use, hence forcing the person to pay again or find another way in which to keep their property safe.
Theme parks should, as Robert said, provide free lockers near the entrance/exit to a ride which allows for a set period of storage time in line with the length of the queue.
I consider it reasonable for parks to charge for the all-day use of lockers as this is a service which people do not have to take up if they feel they're okay to carry items with them during their stay.
If parks want to make money off locker rental but still provide a reasonable quality of service to their visitors then maybe they should consider having lockers which can be rented all-day for a price whilst also offering what could be touted as 'emergency lockers' near the attractions in which loose items can be stored for a set time period.
Published: August 25, 2010 at 10:53 AMI noticed that some of the rides at Holiday World had free locker storage at the loading/unloading platform. I thought that was a great idea. That way you can leave your items without the worry of having them get stolen while you are on the ride, and they are only used by people during the actual ride time, not the wait time plus the ride time. That way they can limit the number of lockers to the capacity of the ride, give or take a few.
Published: August 25, 2010 at 11:09 AMyeah the min. your backpack or purse goes flying out of the ride or gets stolen you'll start with the drama. i'm just saying.
Published: August 25, 2010 at 11:26 AMI know when Manta at Seaworld opened they had pay lockers that you were required to use for your belongings. The worst thing for us is that we don't carry cash and these were "coin" only operated lockers. So just to be able to get on the ride we had to go to the ATM, get the minimum withdrawal at the machine which was $20 dollars and then find a store to make change! It was very frustrating.
Published: August 25, 2010 at 11:33 AMI posted in the discussion thread an idea for locker rentals. First, I always found it troubling to have to pay to begin with, but just accepted the fact.
The real problem I have, is why can't these lockers be a daily fee and given a wristband that unlocks a locker for ride use throughout the park. Hurricane Harbor has the wristband technology to open lockers without a physical key.
Of course, there are many parks, (Kings Dominion is a recent example) that has free bins. Avalanche even labels theirs with the country that is the lead car in the train.
I was told that I couldn't bring my souvenir drink bottle in the queue/ride for Terminator at SFMM. I wished I had a picture of what I saw at the entrance of the ride that day. Many guests had just set their bags and belongings down behind the columns of the ride sign. Security was collecting some items.
Six Flags is the worse offender of this. Lockers at Magic Mountain: X2, Viper, Tatsu, Terminator, Scream, Riddler, Batman.
Here's another thought. If they provide lockers at rides for safety, how about comfort? Grizzly River Rapids is the only water ride that I know of that has lockers (paid) for guests to kept their belongings dry.
Published: August 25, 2010 at 11:38 AMFirst off, I am glad to hear someone call out Six Flags on their nickel and diming ways. I went to Six Flags New England last month (ghetto flags as it is known in my circle) and at one point, I was waiting for Six Flags employees to knock me down and demand I give blood too. What an amazing rip off that park is.
That said, I think some sort of free locker system would be great. How about the type of lockers with a keypad. It is unlocked, you type in a number to lock it (you come up with your own number and hit the lock button), when you are done, you type in the same number again to unlock it. Same technology as any hotel room safe. No key or anything to carry around. Your valuables are safe for the duration of the ride.
Published: August 25, 2010 at 11:44 AMMy family and I went to Hershey Park last month. I always bring my camera with me. Any time I ride a ride I bring my camera bag with me without any trouble. My wife and I were getting on the Wild Mouse ride and one of the ride opperators said to me that I can't bring my camera bag with me. I almost got into an argument with him, but it wasn't worth it. I haven't seen lockers at rides in any parks, but I wouldn't want to pay just to have something in a locker while I'm riding a ride.
Published: August 25, 2010 at 12:38 PMThats horrible. Lockers are absolutely necessary as Mr. Niles said, but charging for them is bad. It's free at Universal for a reasonable amount of time. Can't believe other chains still do that guess thats why their most visited park is ranked 19th in the US.
Published: August 25, 2010 at 1:40 PMI totally agree that this should stop. I really don't like being forced out of my money like that. It's kind of like having to pay extra to ride the ride, and it's obviously a bit of a revenue generator as well. I always appreciated Universal's locker policy with the free 75 minute lockers by the ride queues. If they are going to force you to store your stuff, they should either provide guarded storage bins (which has been the practice for years), or limited free time lockers like Universal. I'm not begrudging them the ability to have pay lockers for extended storage, but don't force the hand of your guests and call it purely a safety practice.
Do you hear me Cedar Point? Millennium Force and Dragster might as well be upcharge attractions right now because guests have to pay for locker storage before they get in line. It's crappy customer service...plain and simple. Figure out a solution. Go the way of Universal, at least for those particular rides. Your guests will be much happier, or at the very least less annoyed, and I'm sure they will spend the money elsewhere in the park because it's a fantastic place.
As for Six Flags, I'm fairly sure that money talks in place of their guests for the most part. I'm afraid that this request will fall on deaf ears...at least at the moment.
On the flip side, I've seen the computerized locks on the Universal lockers fail, and I've seen grown men turn into 6 year olds when they can't get their stuff immediately. You know the kind I speak of...thes one that you just want to shoot with a tazer.
Published: August 25, 2010 at 1:40 PMWhy should a ride operator be held liable for anything left on the station? You have worked coasters in the past, or so you claim. The standard coaster is operating with 3 trains, and dispatching 24-32 people every minute. Why would you expect a ride operator to recognize who put what where? Its not like the bins that are provided by parks like Cedar Fair are secure. I will agree with you though that it would be a courtesy to provide free or semi free lockers, but even some hotels charge to use safes and such.
Published: August 25, 2010 at 1:47 PMAMEN.
However, I think you're giving Universal too much credit. Although I love their parks, I hate their locker policy. Sure, lockers should be available for rides like Rip, Ride, Rockit, but Men in Black? My friend had a tiny camera pack about the size of my fist. It strapped around her waist like a fanny pack. It was small, secure, and wouldn't interfere with the restraints, but they STILL wouldn't let her on with it. Nor would they allow her on Mummy, which has top speeds I'd feel comfortable experiencing while dangling a handful of jewelery.
Over at Islands, it's even worse, particularly at the water rides. The limits are 30 minutes. Dudley Do-Right runs so inefficiently that even a small line generates 20 minute waits. Add to that your ride and dismount times and BOOM - you've just gotten charged extra. I've stopped bringing anything I can't fit in my pockets to that park.
Published: August 25, 2010 at 1:50 PMSeaWorld Orlando is also an offender. It's only a couple of quarters for each of their three rides but besides the expense, it's a hassle when you have to get change.
Published: August 25, 2010 at 2:41 PMThis brings up a gripe that I had with my wife, and now with the readers of this column.
When you are going to a theme park you need to prepare for where you are going. I completely understand that if you have kids that you need to pack a little heavier, but if you do not, then you need to pack ultra light.
Leave the purse, leave the water bottle, leave everything that you would need to carry in the car. Wear pants/shorts that have fastenable cargo pockets large enough to store the camera, sunglasses, or whatever else you need in the park. If there is too much, buy a hip bag that fastens well enough to you that it can be taken on a roller coaster (and you can hide it with your shirt tails).
When we went to King's Dominion a couple of weeks ago, I was carrying only, keys, sunglasses, hat, and an id and credit card for both my wife and I, all of which fit into the cargo shorts I was strategically wearing. Everything else was left in the car.
On the rides, the hat went down the front of my shirt and stuffed into my waistband to keep it from going anywhere. If we were thirsty, we got free water from the different soda stands.
The point is that you let them nickel and dime you by not being prepared. Think about where you are going and travel as light as possible. I know that in my wife's purse there are things in there that she hasn't used for YEARS, yet seems to be ok lugging it around everywhere.
Yes, it is low for the theme parks to charge for lockers that they require you to use, but you are the ones enabling them to do so. Be prepared next time and they won't soak you.
Published: August 25, 2010 at 2:54 PMI don't want to go through the hassle of leaving the park and walking all the way back to my car every time I want a drink of water. Nor do I want to leave my camera in the car - the ability to take pictures in a special place is part of the value I should be getting for the day.
What about rain jackets? Should I be forced to pay the park for a poncho when it rains in the afternoon?
People are going to bring personal items such as these into the park, and they should. Knowing this (and parks do, BTW), parks should design ways to accommodate the safe storage of these items when they can't be taken on rides. (Or to design rides in ways that accommodate these items.)
Some parks do this. Others don't. That makes me more inclined to visit parks which do.
Published: August 25, 2010 at 3:34 PMI understand the complaints about having to pay for a locker. Some rides can obviously handle guests with bags, purses, cameras, etc. It is the other ones where it becomes a matter of safety and liability. I'd imagine the requirement to not allow guests on rides with these items is determined by the insurance provider for these parks. Having excess items on the ride can cause damage to the ride itself if something gets caught in the wheels or can cause injury to guests walking around the park if a guest lost an item during the ride. It is then that you say "well let us take our bags on smaller rides" but then when you work at a bigger ride, you get annoying guests who say "I was allowed to bring this on ____ ride, why can't I bring it on here?!?" The bottom line is, lockers are a necessary evil. Parks are businesses, they're going to charge you for that service. Universal is the exception, but don't be so naive to think that you won't have to get a locker at a park. If you don't have a family this is a lot easier, but do what I do. Bring cash to a park (duh, always have some cash on you...), if you get a drink, finish it before you get in line. You have to plan out your day and can't just complain all day. You're on vacation for heavens sake. Park guests are always either really happy or really mad. Please don't be the mad guests that yell at the innocent front line team members who are just doing what the VPs tell them to...
Published: August 25, 2010 at 4:58 PMRobert, if you refuse to return to a park that has some dishonest visitors, you will never again be able to go to a park. Dishonest visitors and thiefs are few and far between, but they are always there. How can you expect the ride operators to remember who left what in the bin? I understand what you are saying, and the free locker option is certainly the best solution, but don't throw out the baby with the bathwater.
Published: August 25, 2010 at 5:27 PMAt Disneyland MOST of the attractions have ON ride storage. Soarin, Big Thunder, Star Tours are the few that come to mind. They all have a small compartment below the seat or in the front. So you can take your things with you and still secure them. I know that some coasters this may not work, but with some of the smaller ones it would.
Published: August 25, 2010 at 5:58 PMThis also opens up the arguement for people who have diabetes. I come from a family with multiple cases of Type 1 diabetes. My mom is one of them. She can't and wouldn't leave her insulin, shots, testing kit, etc, in a locker. There have been many times while waiting in a long line for a ride that she felt her blood sugar drop. She has to carry candy with her for such an occassion. Should she be punished by having to get out of line to go get her something to help with her diabetes and thus pay for a locker when she can't help having to carry things, or be allowed to have her items with her at all times. With her insulin, she has a special case that keeps it cool, cushioned, and protected from breakage. Thankfully, when we have gone to Disney World, she has either been able to store her stuff (which fits in a waist pack) on the ride itself or keep it on her body.
Published: August 25, 2010 at 6:12 PMI absolutely agree with Robert. Theme park industries are becoming greedy, and lockers are just a way to make more cash. For our family, sometimes a locker is neccessary, sometimes not. However, it is never an absolute need. It is somewhat of a luxury to not cary around jackets for rainy or cold periods. The last time we went to Magic Kingdom we actually just had to pay the deposit due to a special promotion they did for us. One person in our family had to answer 2/3 questions to just have to pay the deposit. I answered all 3 correctly. I thought that was a cute idea. I really don't mind putting a deposit down. It reminds people that they will get that money back and gives them an incentive to remove their items from the locker.
Published: August 25, 2010 at 9:15 PMThis leads back to some comments I made on an earlier thread. I would much rather pay more for a season pass at Six Flags and in return, get a better quality product. The economy is bad and all theme parks are looking for ways to make money in these tough times. If they raised pass prices but in return, lowered the cost of parking, food, and eliminated those mandatory ride lockers, I would not mind the increase one bit. If the park needs to increase revenue - OK, but be reasonable about it.
Most ride storage bins are clearly marked with "____Park is NOT responsible for lost / stolen items" or similar verbiage. Fair enough. If parks would give us that option, we can use our own discretion about bringing valuables into the park. Nobody is going to steal water bottles, ponchos, etc.
Wow, Robert, you sure lit a fuse with this thread!!!!
Published: August 25, 2010 at 9:35 PMYou guys need a reality check, you are talking about Six Flags. They have the worst customer service of any theme park chain. You really expect them to offer a service that they don't make a profit on?
Published: August 25, 2010 at 11:33 PMI think people are getting their stuff stolen outside of the lockers.
In defense of the Dark Knight (oh no!!), I did lose my wallet out of my pocket during the press event. Those seats are terrible.
Still, SFGA should offer them free especially since you can win a giant rastifarian banana right now!
Published: August 26, 2010 at 5:17 AMOne suggestion I have for your readers is to wear a pair of shorts that have a pair of zipper pockets, like the kind they sell at the sporting goods stores. They are also rather thin so they dry quickly. I think they're for fishing. I use them every time I go to Universal so I don't have to use the lockers. I call them my "theme parking pants".
Published: August 26, 2010 at 5:02 AMThere are some things that you can do, like wear a pair of cargo shorts with zipper pockets. I for one like to travel light when inside a park, but sometimes I'm carrying a refill cup or something like that around. It's just a real annoyance to have to pay a few bucks to store a cup for a half hour. Personally, I don't think it's necessary to pack the kitchen sink in a backpack to go to the park, but I also think that those people shouldn't be taken advantage of for wanting to ride a particular ride.
In the 25+ years I've been going to parks, I've never had or seen somebody have something significant stolen out of the bins. I'm sure it happens, but the percentage has to be low. No, the park isn't legally responsible for lost or stolen goods, however that doesn't mean they don't or shouldn't care. It's not good when your customers are being robbed inside of your park, so that's why any ride crew worth its salt will organize the bins, and have one or two of their members keeping a watch on them during load in/load out.
Of course not everyone can do this, but my advice to everyone for any trip is to pack light. Get some sunscreen in the keychain bottles. Get a money clip or a thin wallet. Wear cargo shorts with large, secure pockets. Leave the bottled water at home and use the water fountain or get the free cups of water at the park. If you must have a plastic bottle of water, carry one and reuse it throughout the day. Many of the small bottles can fit in your large cargo shorts pocket. Take the camera that fits in your pocket, not the Nikon D250000 camera with 4 lenses and 3 flashes and a tripod. Do that, and you can avoid the locker fiasco altogether.
Published: August 26, 2010 at 5:33 AMAmen ..Having said that.Its so true Ive seen many people bring so much with them..youd think they were moving in...Ok I can see a camera, small sun screen, one credit card your Id and cash. Not much else. Ive watched families pack a 7 course meal in their back pacs. AS for the lockers Ive never used them ..If it dont fit in a pocket it dont go.and as for the water i break down buy a bottle carry it with me and refill it. When its time to board a ride that wont allow them it gets thrown out..And other gets purchased when Im thirsty again.and we repeat the whole thing again..As for the lockers yea have them but the time limit is the best. free for what ever time is posted at the gate. Give or take. And what ever happened to good old baby bags..for your pampers, a bottle and baby food that could be carried with out needing to regester it as a legal weapon?
Published: August 26, 2010 at 6:12 AMSome consistency would be good here too...
Last year in Orlando my wife and I regularly saw people forbidden from carrying a camera strapped to their wrist but allowed onto thrill rides, (looping coasters, etc), wearing sunglasses, spectacles, flip-flops, etc.... I wore my glasses once on Kraken and spent the whole ride gripping my face to stop the wretched things flying off....
We also had a problem at Universal. Great free lockers keyed to your fingerprint but when we came back off the ride the locker refused to recognise our print and would not open. We eventually summoned a Universal employee to get us into it but she would not open it unless we could provide some ID to prove who we were. The problem was all our ID was INSIDE the locker. It took us 15 minutes of pointing out the idiocy of her position before she would reunite us with our wallets, purse, sunglasses, camera... I th ink she demanded that our camera have a picture of us on it - but we tend to take pictures of the parks, not ourselves... And we weren't the only people who were havign a similar problem that day.... Technology - don't you just love it?
Published: August 26, 2010 at 10:22 AMAdding to the "Theme Park Pants", thats why I wear cargo shorts to the theme parks.
Anyway, one thing that SFGA does (still taking money) is allow you a locker that stuff goes in and out all day for about $14. I usually use that and only use the ride lockers for Superman.
No matter what park you go to, however, this seems to be an issue. Lockers are a lucrative thing at Disney World as well, but they hide it a little bit better for the competition.
But I think SFGA did it due to stealing
Published: August 26, 2010 at 12:35 PMI belong to one of those families that brings a loaded backpack into the park. Frozen water bottles, lunches, cameras, glasses, touring guides, raincoats, sunscreen, etc. We couldn't afford to do our vacations if we ate in the parks, drank their drinks, and paid for other concessions. Not to mention that most theme park counter service food is pretty awful and leaves you feeling rundown.
We see some people give us questionable looks when we walk around the parks with two backpacks. When it rains, though, at least we're not stuck wearing those overpriced, goofy-looking ponchos.
Published: August 26, 2010 at 12:37 PMOh, and I find Busch and SeaWorld's locker systems the best. As someone noted above, $0.50 for an unlimited rental is a steal.
However, I think Disney leads the pack with their on-ride storage cases. Most thrill rides could probably implement this type of system.
Published: August 26, 2010 at 1:47 PMWell one could leave there lunch in the car. And eat it there. While those of us who do plunk down the cash for a meal can sit...Just a thought
Published: August 26, 2010 at 4:33 PMHERE HERE!!! FINALLY!! Someone is FINALLY calling to light the locker scam that has recently begun to plague my favorite Six Flags park in the chain!! Thank you Mr. Niles for that wonderfully constructed argument....I didn't even know Universal had a free locker system in place in the new Harry Potter land in Orlando!!
Published: August 27, 2010 at 9:00 AMI believe Six Flags actually had a press release when they instituted this policy chain wide. Their spin: faster loading and unloading so better dispatch times so less waiting in line. Except the employees didn't change (or weren't treated better) so the ride lockers made minimal difference in wait time. I absolutely refuse to have to pay to use a ride locker at Six Flags (as a protest to the bad policy) so I try to only bring what can be secured in my cargo shorts. But that means I have to be selective when I'd really like to bring the rain jacket with me if rain is predicted, for example, but I don't want to have to wear it on every ride to avoid paying the locker fee.
And the - you can't bring the $12 soda bottle we sold you on the ride but you can store it for $1 - lead me to not buy a refillable cup this year at Six Flags. Good business move here. Just lost a $12 sale plus refills all season AND you're not getting the dollar/ride from me.
Published: August 27, 2010 at 8:58 AM(continued from above - system wouldn't take entire comment...)
Six Flags St. Louis did make one small improvement at some point this year. They installed wooden racks that can "hold" your refillable cup and each slot is numbered. And put it by the employee standing at the queue entrance that is keeping you from taking anything else on. At least they figured out they were shooting themselves in the foot with the refillable soda cup market (which is nearly 100% profit).
But I concur - if you've eliminated on-platform storage, you have to provide a no-cost (or at least low-cost [I'd pay a quarter]) alternative.
Published: August 27, 2010 at 12:10 PMThere are many things to consider on why amusement parks charge for lockers. 1st of all it is probably true- to make money. Many amusement parks in the country are only open a select amount of time out of a year, so if you want those multi-million dollar high intensity scream machines to be built, you have to make a profit. Otherwise, you will end up like Six Flags bankruptcy or other parks simply closing down completely. You also must consider the amount of staff amusement parks have to pay. Consider the electric and water bill alone at some parks can run well into the hundreds of thousands. Landscaping and theme-ing is not cheap my friends. A rumor going around is that Disney spends $100 million a year, if not more. You definitely don't make that much in admission sales. Don't forget all of the other costs in operating a park. Some guests simply think that when they pay $50 ish to get into an amusement park, everything else should be FREE. WRONG!!! Think of how the government charges you for every little thing!
What annoys me about some lockers is that some are 1-time use lockers.... that is rediculous. Allow me to store my belongings in a locker safely so that I can safely store them for the day and return to the locker when necessary.
Coasters are also not storage rooms. Many parks put bins at rides for a convenience or accomodations. However, if you have to wait in line for a major coaster like Top Thrill Dragster, for example, for 2+ hours on a regular day- think of how long you would have to wait if there were bins for guests to put their belongings in. People walk in the front gates and go "stupid" I say. They move slower and do not read signs. Ride attendants want to get guests on an off rides as quickly as possible to make max capacity for the ride (SAFELY, of course). If every guest in line had a bag, drink bottle, camera, cell phone etc. to store, you could probably add about 30 minutes+ per 50-100 people in line to your wait time.
It is not about ripping people off. It is a service provided. You do not have to put your things in a locker, but if you don't the amusement park is NOT LIABLE for what happens to them. So store them, or Lose them!!!
Published: August 27, 2010 at 4:48 PMThat's why I leave items with a non-rider (Muetti)! It's cheaper than the dreaded locker fees!
Published: August 27, 2010 at 5:11 PMI totally agree!! I have seen for myself many times how Six Flags requires the use of a locker for personal belongings, if they will not fit in your pocket. Personally, I don't have a problem because I don't carry water bottles, souvenirs, etc with me. However, all parks should follow the example of Universal, and allow free storage for the first 85 minutes. Or do like Diamonback, and have storage bins, one for each train. It's bad enough some rides, like Diamonback and Firehawk, they assign you your seat. I think that is equally wrong. The worst system I have experienced is the water park at Six Flags Great America. and if you have been there, you know what i mean!!!
Published: August 27, 2010 at 5:30 PMby the way, in my opinion, Jeff Elliot's comment was the best and most reasonable.
Published: August 27, 2010 at 5:30 PMby the way, in my opinion, Jeff Elliot's comment was the best and most reasonable.
Published: August 27, 2010 at 6:28 PMIt really does depend on the park you go to. At Kennywood you can take your fannypack, small camera with you on almost every ride. I went to Six Flags-America and could not believe that I had to remove the pack for every coaster. I didn't take my camera to Busch Gardens because of Six Flags rules. I thought Busch might say the same as SF. No pictures of that part of my vacation!!! It is additional, and a sorry way of getting it, extra profit.
Published: August 28, 2010 at 9:43 AMmuch ado about nothing. If you choose to encumber yourself with mugs, bottles, backpacks, cameras, phones etc. (as I do) that's fine, but the expectation that lockers will or should be provided for "free" is just silly. If a park decides to offer them for "free", the associated cost will just be added in some other way.
Published: August 29, 2010 at 12:39 PMEven if they provide free lockers, like at Universal Hollywood for the Mummy, I still won't use them. If I have a camcorder or SLR with me I'll just forgo that ride altogether. Why? Because they're only liable for upto $20 is losses per locker. That's absurd.
Published: August 30, 2010 at 1:16 AMAt Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, I asked one of the roller coaster ride attendants as to what would happen if you were stuck in line for a ride and you couldn't get back to your locker in time (before the time ran out)? I was told that the locker would lock and couldn't be opened by the guest and that all items inside would be taken to lost and found. Whether or not you were stuck in line due to a large guest attendance that day or even if the ride broke down.
Published: August 30, 2010 at 7:21 AMLockers are unpleasant, but necessary. Six Flags has to charge you for them because they don't have a multi-million dollar backing like Universal, or a multi-multi-million dollar backing like Disney World. Six Flags is its own entity, and doesn't have the never-ending cash stores to draw from like some other parks.
I worked in Guest Relations at a Six Flags; people are downright nasty regarding their lost things. I have had many an irate person scream at me to stop a ride because they were stupid enough to leave their hat / glasses / purse on during a looping coaster and wanted their things back. At some point, you have to save people from themselves; lockers won't be going anywhere, especially until they pay for themselves.